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Improving the Zoning Code, one small project at a time

BPS E-News July 2014

City Council approved most of the code amendments in RICAP 6 on June 11, and those updated regulations are already in effect.

Council spent additional time deliberating on and refining the proposed rules for accessory short-term rentals. Following a work session and two subsequent hearings, Council unanimously adopted the new rules for Airbnb-type overnight rentals. The new regulations will allow Portland residents to rent one to two bedrooms in a single-dwelling unit, such as a house or duplex, to overnight guests. A low-cost permit and streamlined system will make it possible — and now legal — for Portlanders who want to take advantage of this new type of home business.

These new short-term rental rules will go into effect on August 29. The Bureau of Development Services website will soon offer more information about the process and how to sign up for a permit. 

Such rentals, however, are not allowed in multi-dwelling structures, such as apartments and condos. Mayor Charlie Hales convened a task force of multi-family, affordable housing, renter and design/build stakeholders to assess the impact of including these types of dwellings on housing affordability and availability in a tight rental market. Council will consider their findings and recommendations later this year.

RICAP 7 to address 44 more items

With RICAP 6 completed, the bureau can turn its attention to a proposed work plan for RICAP 7, which includes seven minor policy items and 37 technical corrections and clarifications. As with previous RICAPs, the items are diverse and touch various sections of the City’s Zoning Code, such as:

  • Processes for minor changes following design review approval.
  • Restricting concurrent pre-application with land use submittals.
  • Clarifying the definition of household living uses as related to disabled individuals.
  • Evaluating height measurement methodology.
  • Clarifying the Ladd’s Addition District Street Tree Guidelines. 

The Planning and Sustainability Commission will review the RICAP 7 work plan at their public hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26.

Accessory structures to be addressed through a separate regulatory improvement “midcap” project

Concurrently, the Code Development Team will tackle issues related to accessory structures, including distinctions between the regulations that cover garages, sheds, guest houses and accessory dwelling units. This “midcap” project (i.e., larger than RICAP, but smaller than a large-scale project) is slated to take up to 18 months, which gives staff more time to solicit stakeholder input and involvement. It will also examine the distinctions between regulations in residential and non-residential zones, and the requirements for “attached” versus “detached” accessory structures. The scope and detailed timeline for this project are still being finalized. Sign up to stay informed about RICAP7 and the Accessory Structure Midcap.

Portlanders can zoom in to their neighborhoods with the interactive Map App

BPS E-News July 2014

Built entirely in-house by the geographic information system (GIS) team at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the new Map App is intended to engage more Portlanders in the planning process. It gives people more options to learn about and comment on the Proposed Draft without having to attend a meeting or read long documents, because you can view the maps online anytime, anywhere, on your desktop, tablet or smart phone.

With a built-in translation function, powered by Google Translate, it even provides text in many languages. For people who don’t have access to computers (or don’t like to use them), printed copies of the maps are available as PDF files and as large format district-wide maps displayed at Neighborhood Coalition offices.

Reasons for and benefits of the Map App

This isn’t the first Map App the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has created. Version 1 was created for the Comprehensive Plan Working Draft. Showing some 80-plus map layers of background information, it is being updated and will be available to the public again in August, as an additional resource/tool.

Some 22,000 people visited the Map App v1, enough to overflow the Moda Center. The new Map App for the Proposed Draft (v2) is an attempt to “grow that table of decision-makers even more,” said BPS Technical Services Manager Kevin Martin.

Martin notes that feedback received on the first Map App indicated that users wanted to learn how these proposed changes would affect them. “They also want good design, more manageable bits of information, and they want to have a conversation — to see what other people are saying about the proposals.”

In addition to addressing those requests, Martin and others on the Tech Services team wanted to ensure the new Map App was completely mobile-friendly, “so we had to hone our messages way down to fit a very small screen.”

Online mapping tools like these are “just another tool in the public engagement toolbox,” said Martin. “We learned from the last app that we can reach a lot more people whose attention is being pulled in many different directions.”

Building the Map App took about three months of development time for GIS staff, all while working on several other projects (see story below). And that doesn’t count the data wrangling, mapping and content creation that was also required. “If I had to guess, I'd say it cost roughly $10,000,” Martin speculated. “If we paid a consultant to do the same thing, we'd be looking at $100,000 minimum.”

Response rates

A week after the launch of the Proposed Draft, the Map App has had roughly 6,600 views and received about 170 comments. “That’s well above the traffic of the first version,” commented Martin. “It took three to four weeks to get to that number with v1. That’s pretty excellent.”

Problem Solved 2014: Businesses from around Portland shared successes and challenges at Sustainability at Work's third Problem Solved event on July 22

BPS E-News July 2014

We captured the top tips from attendees, as well as success stories that you may be able to replicate at your own organization.

Top tips


Start small

  • Small changes are easier to make, and it’s easier to capitalize on successes.
  • Pilot new practices – with a small group, or for a short amount of time – before implementing on a large scale.


  • Focus on employee education at each step of a new initiative.
  • Share information in multiple ways and places: meetings, emails and web content.

Know your culture

  • Find messaging, actions, and activities that will resonate with your coworkers.
  • Know what motivates your coworkers – like recognition, prizes, or food – to take action.

Get support

  • Strategically engage management to make sure they have your back.
  • Use Sustainability at Work staff for guidance – that’s why we’re here!


  • Make your achievements known, and have fun with it!
  • Celebrate within your Green Team, or involve all staff in a celebration.


Success stories


Integral Consulting

  • Replaced parking subsidies with subsidized transit passes and bike incentives.
  • Reduced their car miles traveled by 20,000 miles.
  • Increased transit participation by 44 percent.


Fortis Construction

  • Removed desk-side trash cans and made sure everyone had a desk-side recycling bin.
  • Set up extra recycling – Styrofoam, odd plastics - to be taken to a recycling depot.
  • Some staff have started collecting “beyond the curb” at home, now that they’ve learned how at work.


Ready to make your organization more sustainable?

Contact Sustainability at Work to connect with an advisor.

The next Problem Solved event will take place in early 2015. Sign up for Sustainability at Work’s e-newsletter to stay informed about Problem Solved and other sustainability tips for businesses in Portland.

RICAP 6 wraps up

Short-Term Rental Regulations Adopted on July 30 for houses

Following a work session on June 24, and two subsequent hearings on July 2 and July 23, City Council unanimously adopted the new rules that will allow a resident to rent up to two bedrooms in their house, attached house, duplex, manufactured home, or accessory dwelling unit to overnight guests with a low-cost permit. Such rentals will not be allowed in multi-dwelling structures, such as apartments and condos, but will be addressed by Council later this year. These new short-term rental rules will go into effect on August 29. The Bureau of Development Services website will soon offer more information about the process and how to apply for a permit.


Get to know the 2035 Comprehensive Plan Map App

The new Map App makes it possible to view the draft comprehensive plan maps online anytime, anywhere, on your desktop, tablet or smart phone

Get to know the 2035 Comprehensive Plan Map App:

screen captureThis interactive online tool allows you to:

  • View proposed land uses and development intensities expected by the year 2035.
  • Learn what changes are proposed that may affect your property and/or your neighborhood.
  • Provide direct feedback to the Planning and Sustainability Commission to inform their recommendations.

To learn more...

  1. Check out the MapApp on any computer*, tablet or smart phone: online for more information:
    • Type in an address to view land use, transportation and infrastructure proposals that may affect your property and/or your neighborhood.
    • Comment on the proposals online.
  2. Staff are happy to answer your questions!
    • Call the Helpline at 503-823-0195.
    • Drop in to talk with someone in person. Check the Comprehensive Plan Calendar on the project website for times and locations.
    • Email staff at

*All Multnomah County libraries have public access computers.

The new Map App makes it possible to view the draft comprehensive plan maps online anytime, anywhere, on your desktop, tablet or smart phone. Exploring the Map App, you can learn about and comment on land use, transportation and other infrastructure proposals that will guide growth and development over the next 20 years.

The Map App at a glance:

Land Use Tab

Combined Proposed Changes This map shows all proposed land use changes, aligning the Comprehensive Plan Map with draft goals and policies and planned infrastructure investments.
Centers and Corridors Proposed map changes show where shops, restaurants, offices and homes may be clustered to promote convenience, walkability and access to services.
Jobs Proposed map changes provide places to meet the city’s demand for job growth, including large schools and hospitals, neighborhood-compatible light industry, creative services, medium-sized offices, manufacturing and distribution.
Risks and Service Gaps Proposed map changes intend to protect public health and safety, avoid increasing natural hazard risks, and acknowledge limited infrastructure or services.
Neighborhoods, Parks and Open Space Proposed map changes include adjustments to residential densities to respond to a variety of local conditions, as well as updates to Open Space designations on publicly owned sites dedicated to park or open space use.
The Comprehensive Plan Map This map shows land uses and development intensities expected by the year 2035, inclusive of proposed changes and existing designations where no changes are proposed.

Transportation Tab

Citywide Transportation Systems Plan Work in progress – This set of maps represents an unranked list of candidate transportation projects and programs. Projects are sorted by estimated price tag:
  • Up to $1 million.
  • Between $1 – 10 million.
  • Between $10 – 25 million.
  • $25 million or more.

Infrastructure Tab

Citywide Systems Plan This map represents planned improvements to the City’s water, sewer and stormwater systems, as well as desired improvements to parks, trails and recreation facilities. The map shows location-specific projects identified in the City’s 20-year infrastructure plan, the Citywide Systems Plan.
Sewer Projects This map shows planned improvements to Portland’s sewer system over the next 20 years to protect public health, water quality and the environment.
Stormwater Projects This map shows planned improvements to Portland’s stormwater system, including pipes and green infrastructure, over the next 20 years. Projects will lower the risk of flooding in homes, businesses and streets; protect public health; and support healthy watersheds.
Water Projects This map shows planned improvements to Portland’s water system over the next 20 years to provide reliable clean water, protect public health and meet regulations.
Park Projects This map shows desired improvements to Portland’s park and recreation system over the next 20 years. These improvements would fill gaps and help ensure all Portlanders have access to parks, natural areas, trails and recreational opportunities.


For more information about Portland’s Comprehensive Plan Update visit Helpline 503-823-0195.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing equal access to information and hearings. If you need special accommodation, translation or interpretation please call 503-823-7700, the City’s TTY at 503-823-6868, or the Oregon Relay Service at 711.